The Worst Oscar-Nominated Movies of All Time
Every year, when the Oscar nominations are announced, a considerable amount of time is spent debating who was snubbed. But for every film that was expecting to get nominated and didn’t, there’s a film that no one was expecting to get nominated and did. This is the story of those films. The movies you’ll look back on and wonder exactly how the heck it ever got nominated for an Oscar.
Perhaps the mother of all Worst Movies Ever Nominated For an Oscar, ‘Norbit’ was Eddie Murphy’s attempt to recreate the man-in-fat-suit magic of ‘The Nutty Professor.’ But while that film was a critical and commercial success, ‘Norbit’ was a disaster, tanking at the box-office and ranking a paltry 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was so bad, there was talk back during the 2007 Oscars that it would hurt Eddie’s chances for winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in ‘Dreamgirls.’ As reviled as it was, in 2008, ‘Norbit’ became an Oscar-nominee as it was nominated for Best Makeup.
Following the breakout success of ‘Die Hard,’ many films tried to replicate that success with the Hollywood formula “‘Die Hard on a [fill in the blank].” ‘Under Siege’ was the first of those knock-offs and attempted to turn Steven Seagal, then a B-movie martial arts star, into a bonafide action hero. It…sort of worked, for what it was, but it was hardly an Oscar-worthy film. Strangely, the Academy disagreed, and nominated ‘Under Siege’ for not just one, but two Oscars for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Sound. Former ‘Baywatch’ star Erika Eleniak, sadly, went unnominated despite a very, um, revealing role as a stripper.
Speaking of ‘Die Hard’ knock-offs, ‘Con Air,’ which was basically “‘Die Hard’ on a Plane,” was Nicolas Cage’s first attempt at playing the action hero. (In his previous action film, ‘The Rock,’ Cage played a nerdy and timid chemical weapons specialist with no field experience.) It’s a silly, almost tongue-in-cheek film that didn’t exactly win a lot of critical support (especially not with lines like, “Put… the bunny… back… in the box.”) but did win the hearts of Oscar voters who nominated the film for two awards, Best Score and Best Original Song. (The Leann Rimes mega-hit ‘How Do I Live’ just happened to be attached to the soundtrack.) The film also picked up a few Golden Raspberrys, including one for “Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property.”
After he won an Oscar for ‘Good Will Hunting,’ Robin Williams started to take himself seriously as an actor. Perhaps a little too seriously. Though ‘Patch Adams’ was ostensibly a comedy – a doctor yuks it up with dying kids – but the film gets melodramatic as Patch starts preaching endlessly to the medical community. (Fun fact: the real Patch Adams was committed to a mental institution.) Siskel & Ebert called it one of the worst films of the year (Siskel famously said he wanted to rename the film ‘Punch Adams’) but the Oscars saw fit to bestow a nomination for Best Original Music.
It’s not so much that ‘Green Card’ – Hollywood’s attempt to Americanize French star Gerard Depardieu – is a horrible movie. It’s just that there’s nothing particularly memorable about it. Critics knocked it for being unoriginal and by-the-numbers, but somehow this romantic comedy was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in 1991 (likely because the Academy loves writer Peter Weir, an Oscar darling for his previous films ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ and ‘Witness’).
It’s not exaggerating to say that Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ films revitalized the superhero genre. It’s also not exaggerating to say that Joel Schumacher’s ‘Batman’ films almost killed it. Schumacher took over after Warner Bros. felt Burton went too dark on ‘Batman Returns’ and was given the direction to make the films more family friendly. The film was a commercial success but fans hated it, most notoriously focusing their ire on the nipples Schumacher added to the Batsuit. Nevertheless, ‘Batman Forever’ took home three Oscar nominations (as many as Burton’s two films combined) for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Sound.
‘Waterworld’ is perhaps most famous for setting the record (at the time) for the most expensive film of all-time in 1995. It’s $175 million might not seem like much by today’s standards but at the time, the film went $75 million over budget when a hurricane caused a major part of the set to collapse. Universal had high hopes it would make its money back but when critics blasted ‘Waterworld’, the film made only $88 million and eventually became known as one of the biggest flops of all-time. It did, however, bring home an Oscar nomination for Best Sound. So they got that going for them, which is nice.
‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’
With the original ‘Transformers’ film a huge success, a sequel was a no-brainer. But the 2007-2008 writers strike in Hollywood forced the production to come up with a finished script for a follow-up in just three weeks. The results were not so good. Just ask star Shia LeBeouf, who told FHM, “I hated it.” Or director Michael Bay, who told Empire, “It was crap.” Or Megan Fox, who famously compared Bay to Hitler. Even if the cast and crew hated their own movie, the Oscars couldn’t ignore the film, nominating it for Best Sound Mixing.
Adam Sandler films are more likely to get nominated for MTV Movie Awards or Razzies than Oscars, but somehow Sandler’s 2006 dramedy ‘Click’ managed to score an Oscar. What’s perhaps more surprising is that ‘Click,’ with its one Oscar nod for Best Makeup, has more nominations than Sandler’s films with directors like James L. Brooks, Paul Thomas Anderson and Judd Apatow. But, as we saw with ‘Norbit’, the Academy apparently loves when you take comedians and hide them under makeup.
Despite his reputation, Arnold Schwarzegger has some fine films on his resume. ‘Terminator 2,’ ‘Predator,’ ‘Total Recall,’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’…all classics. But you’d be hard-pressed to find even the most passionate Schwarzenegger fan who would count the 1996 film ‘Eraser’ on even their Top 10 Arnold films. It was the beginning of an unfortunate Arnold run towards the end of his pre-Governator acting career that would include stinkers like ‘Batman & Robin,’ ‘The 6th Day’ and ‘End of Days.’ Thought it’s far from an Ah-nuld classic, ‘Eraser’ was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing.